THE WEEKENDER: Only one winner on Saturday
TITANIC sporting encounters - I just can't get enough of them.
There's nothing quite like waking up on a Saturday morning, then feeling that mounting sense of anticipation as kick-off time draws ever nearer.
A clash between two evenly matched teams in a fixture with a colourful history is what fans of any team sport look forward to.
And so it is later today, when Derby County take on Leicester City in what promises to be a full-blooded, no-quarter-given East Midlands derby in the Championship.
Oh, the rugby...?
Well you see, that's where the problem lies.
Wales v England in the Six Nations decider kicks off at 5pm, while Derby County v Leicester City kicks off at 5.20pm. Both are on the telly.
Clearly there has been either a monstrous error by programmers, or a deliberate attempt has been made by the BBC to sabotage the hopes of we Rams fans who cannot get to Pride Park, and who would otherwise turn to our TV screens to watch the match.
Whatever the reason for this 'oversight', I have a dilemma. Do I play the 'dad's in charge' card with my teenage sons and insist that we watch the footie? Or do I switch between channels every two or three minutes, annoying the aforementioned young men, but achieving at least a portion of the best of both sporting worlds?
Actually, who am I kidding?
My 14-year-old is a football fan, but won't have any sympathy with me today, while my 17-year-old is a six-feet-something rugby obsessive who can (probably) quote at length the results of every Six Nations match for the past decade, who scored when, who was substituted, and with what injury... how long they were sidelined, when they returned to action for their clubs, against whom, in what competition, in front of how big a crowd, and under what weather conditions... how much they weighed before and after the injury, and the extent to which that injury affected their subsequent performances.
Not for nothing is he known as 'Statto' by his rugby coach and teammates.
Crucially however, he is also stronger than me and, from an early age having developed a penchant for trying to dump-tackle me onto the living room floor every time I am off my guard, saying 'no' to the rugby might not be conducive to my physical health.
I could of course, set the controls to whatever Sky channel the football is on, then strap the TV remote control to my arm.
But said arm - and a valuable ornament - might get broken in the ensuing struggle, resulting in much pain for me and much vitriol and swearing, towards me, from Her Nibs for causing the fracas that led to the broken ornament.
I could of course, record the football and watch it later, but it's not the same and there's a final Six Nations match to come after Wales v England. That it won't have any bearing on which team wins the title, and will not feature a team my eldest supports is of no consequence. It is rugby, on the telly, and to him that is all that matters.
The other alternative would be to seek out a welcoming pub in which to watch the football, pint in hand.
But this is Wales. Any pub with a telly is going to have the rugby on, and playing the strapping-the-TV-remote-control-to-my-arm trick in that environment will likely lead to more than a broken arm.
So it looks like the rugby, then.
It won't be as exciting as Derby v Leicester, but you can't talk sensibly to Welsh teenagers at Six Nations time, even those who for the rest of the year prefer football.
Never mind - I might have the last laugh anyway, so here goes - Come on England!
Potholes are here to stay
A REPORT published earlier this week estimates that one road in five in England and Wales has been affected by potholes because of bad weather in recent years.
While it is probably in the Asphalt Industry Alliance's interest to highlight such problems, in order to generate business for its members, the fundamental fact remains - collectively, our roads feel bumpier than they have ever been.
If it isn't potholes - I inadvertently hit a beauty on Risca Road in Newport a few weeks ago, which I subsequently noted has been repaired - it is the surface layer of tarmac that is being stripped away, giving the feeling of driving along a dirt track.
This problem also scatters disintegrating chunks of tarmac across the road, which other vehicles throw up onto one's windscreen.
The alliance estimates that it will cost £10.5 billion to get roads back into a reasonable condition.
In the current economic climate, such investment is a distant prospect - so keep driving carefully.